The truth about storage cost savings

There are apparently more reasons for keeping careful track of your spiralling disk and data needs than even storage software vendors think.

There are apparently more reasons for keeping careful track of your spiralling disk and data needs than even storage software vendors think.

Knowing what your storage is doing, independent consultancy Giga Group claims, can advance the schedule of development projects, because the organisation doesn’t have to plan in a hurry for more space to meet the demands of the new application.

Giga was commissioned by systems management specialist BMC Software to evaluate the return on investment from good storage utilisation using its Patrol products. BMC devised its own tool to measure more factors than are normally evaluated in a storage use study, says the company’s Houston-based storage management director, Dan Hoffman.

“We wanted a third-party validation of that tool and we asked Giga to do it,” Hoffman says. Giga, however, has its own methodology, which it calls “total economic impact” (TEI). While it was impressed with BMC’s tool, it suggested using the TEI methodology instead, with some of BMC’s elements included.

It has now certified an updated version of BMC’s tool as “TEI-compliant”.

Two evaluations were done, one ignoring the risk element of input figures being slightly wrong, the other taking this into account. Both showed a return on investment in storage management software within less than two years, with the risk-adjusted model measuring return on investment only a month longer.

Return on investment is normally thought of as stemming mainly from the freeing up of storage, through eliminating never-used and duplicate information; but the increased certainty as to how much storage is really there led to better planning of projects and increased productivity, Giga found.

Organisations are sometimes so uncertain about storage utilisation that they run with as much as 50% of storage free, just to avoid the risk of running out, says Hoffman.

Competent storage management allows them to lower that “safety margin” without extra risk.

The reduced overhead of running fewer storage boxes naturally saves money, and time is saved on backup “because you don’t have to back up so much”.

“We have found many customers don’t understand the full cost of storage,” says Hoffman. Many haven’t analysed adequately the impact of storage outages on human productivity and the cost of that.

Giga included in its model all the factors it believed should be put in, but left customers free to exclude from the model anything they didn’t believe in, Hoffman says. “Of course, if the numbers hadn’t come out so favourably, we wouldn’t be telling you.”

BMC claims Patrol is equally effective as managing direct-attached storage, SAN and NAS. Many users feel radically different techniques are needed for the newer storage architectures, and assume they will have to buy at least two management products. The upshot is that they buy a product to manage the new storage and let the old run itself, Hoffman says, and that is a false economy.

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